How to Turn Old Milk Cartons into makeshift Speakers
As an audiophile on a budget, I’m always looking for creative ways to build speakers without spending a lot of money. Recently, I discovered that you can actually turn old milk cartons into surprisingly decent makeshift speakers!
In this guide, I’ll walk you through the full process of transforming regular milk cartons into functional speakers using basic craft supplies. We’ll cover what materials you need, how to construct the speaker box and install the components, and tips for getting the best sound quality possible out of these budget milk carton speakers.
Whether you want to DIY a set of speakers on the cheap or recycle materials creatively, read on to learn how I was able to turn simple milk cartons into makeshift speakers that really work!
What You’ll Need
To make milk carton speakers, you’ll need to gather these basic supplies:
Old plastic milk jugs or cartons – The thicker and more rigid, the better. You want materials that will hold their shape.
Speaker driver – This is the main component that actually produces the sound vibrations. I used inexpensive 3-4 inch speaker drivers.
Speaker wire – For connecting the driver to your audio source. You’ll need a length suitable for your setup.
Amplifier or receiver – To power the speaker and convert signals into sound. Can be as simple as a small Lepai amp.
Craft knife, scissors, etc. – For cutting and shaping the cartons into speaker boxes.
Glue gun or strong adhesive – To assemble the speaker enclosure.
Acoustic insulation – Fiberglass, polyfill, or other sound-absorbing material to line the interior.
Paint, fabric, etc. (optional) – To customize the look and finish of your milk carton speakers.
Constructing the Enclosure
With my materials gathered, it was time to turn a regular old milk jug into a speaker box. Here are the steps I followed:
Cutting and Shaping the Carton
First, I thoroughly cleaned out and dried the milk carton to prepare it for cutting. Using the craft knife, I carefully cut off the top spout and handle of the carton so I had a rectangular prism shape to work with.
For a 3-4 inch driver, I cut the carton to about 6 inches high x 5 inches wide x 4 inches deep. This left enough room for the speaker components and insulation. I used the craft knife to smooth out any rough edges.
Installing the Speaker Driver
Next, I cut a circular hole in one side of the milk carton to mount the speaker driver. I made sure to size this just slightly smaller than the outer diameter of the driver frame.
Positioning the hole near the upper part of the carton, I inserted the speaker and used hot glue to securely adhere the driver edges all around. This sealed it to the carton walls.
Insulating the Inside
To improve sound quality, I lined all the interior surfaces with acoustic insulation. I used recycled denim fiberfill, but polyfill, fiberglass, or foam would also work.
Packing the insulation material tightly around the speaker driver helps absorb internal resonances for a cleaner sound.
Closing Up the Box
Finally, I used my glue gun to re-seal the bottom edge of the milk carton and complete the enclosure. If desired, you can cut a small hole near the rear to run speaker wires outside.
Optional steps would include adding decorative elements like paint, fabric or other coatings to customize the appearance. But functionally, my DIY speaker box was ready for the next steps!
Installing Speaker Components
My milk carton enclosure was ready for the electronic guts – time to install the components to make it play sound!
Wiring the Speaker Driver
First I stripped the ends of some speaker wire and connected them securely to the input terminals on the back of the driver.
Be sure to observe proper polarity – I marked the wire ends with tape to identify the positive (+) and negative (-) connections.
Connecting to an Amplifier
I then cut the speaker wire to an appropriate length and connected it to my small Lepai amplifier board. It’s crucial to match the driver impedance and power handling to your amp’s output.
Pro tip: Using thicker wire helps maximize power transfer and audio quality.
With the amp wired to the driver, I simply plugged in the AC cable to provide juice to the amplifier. I made sure volume was turned down before powering everything on.
At this point, connecting any audio source to the amp’s inputs (phone, MP3 player) should send sound to the DIY milk carton speaker!
Usage Tips for Best Sound Quality
Here are some tips I learned for getting the most out of my repurposed milk carton speakers:
Place speakers on a hard, flat surface away from walls for best resonance. Bookshelves or tables work great.
Angle speakers slightly inward towards the listening position. This improves direct sound coverage.
Experiment with input levels and volume settings. Too high can cause distortion.
Add damping/mass loading material inside to reduce boxy echoes. Quarters or pennies glued to the walls help absorb vibrations.
Upgrade amplifier wattage for louder volumes. But match the specs to your driver’s power handling.
Add a second identical driver and wire both in parallel to double output and channel separation.
Converting old milk jugs into functional speakers was a fun, inexpensive DIY audio project. While the sound quality isn’t audiophile-grade, I’m amazed how good music can sound coming from a simple recycled carton!
With just a few basic tools and components, you can build your own milk carton speakers. Just be creative with the materials on hand. And who knows – you may just rediscover your media in a whole new light by listening on these eco-friendly, custom crafted DIY speakers.